UNCTAD and World Customs Organization enhance cooperation

05 October 2022

The two entities have strengthened their existing collaboration to promote digitalization, facilitate trade and improve customs control worldwide.

The port of Lome in Togo.
Default image copyright and description

© Shutterstock/Leonardo viti | The port of Lome in Togo, a country that uses UNCTAD's Automated System for Customs Data and is a World Customs Organization member.

UNCTAD and the World Customs Organization (WCO) have expanded their decade-long cooperation to include more areas of work.

UNCTAD Secretary-General Rebeca Grynspan and her WCO counterpart Kunio Mikuriya signed a memorandum of understanding on 4 October, updating the two organizations’ previous agreement from 2013.

Joint efforts to modernize customs operations

The new agreement will boost customs modernization by enabling interoperability between UNCTAD’s Automated System for Customs Data (ASYCUDA) programme and various WCO projects.

ASYCUDA – UNCTAD’s largest technical assistance programme – helps customs offices in over 100 countries and territories to expedite the clearance of goods.

Currently, 77 WCO members are using ASYCUDAWorld – ASYCUDA’s flagship software – as their integrated custom data management system.

“It is worth noting that ASYCUDA systems are fully compliant with the international instruments and standards developed by the WCO,” Ms. Grynspan said.

“Our collaboration will be instrumental in the successful delivery of our respective goals and activities,” she added.

WCO works to make customs operations more effective and efficient. The Brussels-based entity represents 184 customs administrations across the globe, which collectively process about 98% of world trade.

“The memorandum of understanding is a robust foundation towards closer cooperation with UNCTAD,” Mr. Mikuriya said.

“Customs has long led border modernization and this new partnership is expected to enhance this potential further and bring it onto a new level.”

Leveraging data for stronger customs capability

Through the agreement, UNCTAD and WCO will help customs authorities better manage risks with information technology.

To streamline and simplify data collection, the two organizations will develop a harmonized methodology to gather and share customs statistics.

They will join forces to accelerate supply chain digitalization by implementing international standards for data exchange, such as the WCO Data Model.

In addition to increasing customs data quality and accuracy, the collaboration will also facilitate trade by improving consistency and predictability related to cross-border data requirements.

"UNCTAD and WCO secretary generals at the signing ceremony"

UNCTAD Secretary-General Rebeca Grynspan (right) and WCO Secretary General Kunio Mikuriya
at the signing ceremony in Geneva, Switzerland.